To say the last 18 months have been a challenge for the events industry would be an understatement. Though the pandemic has slowed face-to-face experiences to a standstill, that didn’t stop Mash Media hosting the Events Production Show (EPS) in-person on 26-27 May 2021, at the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre.
Joanne Knowles, show manager of EPS, gave a rundown of the event and spoke about the unique challenges in play when putting on one of the first in-person events since the pandemic hit UK shores.
EPS caters to the large-scale events value chain, as such the topic of Covid-19 was a hotbed of conversation, Knowles explained: “I think some of the more interesting topics at the event centred around the pandemic, specifically: how the industry can recover from the downtime during Covid-19, and whether events now have a clean slate for major change to take place.
“Sustainability also remained a hot-topic, with there being a big push for it among our speaker faculty, with diversity and inclusion also playing a major role at the event.”
Though any number of people in a room seems like a crowd these days, there’s no escaping that social distancing measures and hesitancy about live events meant EPS looked a bit different to previous years.
Knowles detailed how the restricted attendee numbers belied the quality of those present at the show: “The 2021 visitor numbers reflected the uncertainty of the times but we’re delighted that this year has seen a 14% rise which was reflected in the exhibitor feedback which was overwhelmingly positive.
“The Event Production show has enjoyed an average of over 2,500 senior visitors each year and we’re already starting on our ambition 2022 plans.”
Jason Baris, founder and director of Blade Rigg, an exhibitor at the event, said: “I think having a slightly smaller event to start off with is really good because it sets the platform and gives people confidence.”
Government regulations changed several times in the lead up to the event, this led to a great deal of uncertainty behind the scenes. Would the event be inside or outside? Would the event even take place?
Knowles said: “Flexibility was key for us in the lead up to EPS, we had moved from the event’s usual venue [ExCeL London], the date of the event changed three times and our floorplan changed seven times prior to the event.
“The exhibitors who came to the show had a positive experience. Keeping clear lines of communication when it came to changes (one being two weeks before the event) was key.
“For attendees, many of the changes behind the scenes were unknown to them. The customer communication was kept to date and venue changes, ensuring a smooth customer experience.”
Attendee Cecilia Lavin, head of EMEA sales, One World Rental, said: “I’ve realised the importance of face-to-face events during the pandemic so I think people should just really continue attend these events to keep the industry going as well.”